It has been a very positive last 9 days for AS Roma, two wins and a draw in Serie A and in the Europa League. They will be looking to extend that run to 4 games this Sunday evening when they travel to Turin to take on Torino.
After a win in Amsterdam and a win in Rome against Bologna, Roma followed that up with a 1-1 draw on Thursday night against Ajax to go through to the Europa League Semi-finals. It was not pretty, it was anxious, it made age 10 years in the 90 minutes of football. It was bloody effective.
Roma and Paulo Fonseca did an absolute job on Erik ten Hag Ajax side in both legs and come away with a 3-2 aggregate scoreline. Much to the saltiness of Ajax fans and some rival supporters of Roma fans on Social Media. Nothing can beat a bit of saltiness of rival supporters after a big win, even though they call it “fluky.”
It’s nice of Paulo Fonseca and Roma to prove all the haters wrong and book a place in the Europa League Semi-Finals where they will play Manchester United. That will be an intriguing tie over two legs at the end of April and the beginning of May.
Roma had to work ridiculously hard against an excellent Ajax side who will flourish next year in European competitions. Ajax for large portions of the game were dominant with the ball but struggled to create chances especially in the final 20 minutes of the game. After Edin Dzeko scored the equaliser, Ajax struggled with 4 forwards on the pitch against a back 5 who defended a lot higher in the pitch than they previously in the 70 minutes beforehand.
A lot of credit for me should go to the much-maligned Bryan Cristante, who was excellent again as the centre of the back 3. His pass out from the defence which led up to the Roma equaliser should not go unnoticed. It split 6 Ajax attackers and set Roma up nicely for a counterattack at goal. Also, the clip of him swearing in English to Anthony Taylor has gone viral on social media and picked up a lot of support from fellow AS Roma fans.
Lorenzo Pellegrini is suspended for the trip to Turin after picking up a yellow card against Bologna and then berating his teammate Gonzalo Villar who gave the ball away which led up to the Pellegrini booking.
PREDICTED LINE UP | ROMA (3-4-2-1)
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez, Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Bruno Peres, Pedro, Carles Perez, Borja Mayoral.
Torino are hovering above the Serie A relegation dotted line with 27 points from 29 games and 5 points clear of 18th place Cagliari in the Serie A standings. Torino are 7 points clear of 19th place Parma and a whopping 12 points clear of bottom place Crotone.
The last 6 games for Torino have seen 3 defeats, 2 wins, and a draw. The lone draw was on Easter Saturday and was a spirited 2-2 draw against fiercest rivals Juventus. The three defeats were against Crotone (4-2), Inter Milan (1-2), and Sampdoria (1-0). The two wins have come against Sassuolo (3-2) and away at Udinese last Saturday night winning 1-0 in Udine.
Davide Nicola has been in charge at Torino for just over two months now after the sacking of Marco Giampaolo on January 18th, 2021. Davide Nicola has overseen 11 games as coach of Torino picking 14 points at 1.27 points per game. 3 wins, 5 draws, and 3 defeats have seen Torino upturn in fortunes on the pitch and seen the club escape the bottom 3. Davide Nicola has stuck to the 3-5-2 principles and has worked wonders.
The key player to watch out for in the Torino side:
Il Gallo aka the Rooster, Andrea Bellotti has been involved in 17 league goals this season from 27 appearances with 12 goals and 5 assists. Rumoured to be on the striker wish list of AS Roma, could this be an audition for Il Gallo for next season. Bellotti had started the season wonderfully with 6 goals in 6 games including two doubles against Cagliari and Atalanta both in losing causes.
But has struggled to find the net with regularity in 2021. Belotti did break a 6-game scoring drought last weekend with the winner for Torino away at Udinese. If this is his last season at the club, he would want to help Torino in the battle for survival in Serie A.
Torino will be missing experienced Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirgu after he contracted Covid19 during the Italy FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for 2022.
PREDICTED LINE UP | TORINO (3-5-2)
Milinkovic-Savic, Izzo, Bremer, Nkoulou, Vojvoda, Rincon, Mandragora, Verdi, Ansaldi, Belotti, Sanabria.
The games are coming quick and fast for AS Roma, 4 games in 10 days and with Atalanta to come on Thursday evening. This is a massive game for Paulo Fonseca and Roma if they want to reach the top 4. A win will keep them in the hunt and mount pressure on Lazio who are one point above Roma in the Serie A standings.